katherine’s review published on Letterboxd:
a film that crumbles under the weight of its central mechanism. let’s get the good out of the way:
- technically fascinating, nolan manages to put to film things that could only be conceived of in dreams
- the soundtrack is an achievement in experimental soundscapes
- everyone’s pretty hot
however, when you’re trying new things there is a line where going too experimental starts to disengage your audience. Tenet crosses this line backwards, flipping the bird at us linear temporal scum. the narrative is almost incomprehensible and the poor sound mixing (making much of the dialogue unintelligible) does not help. unfortunately a coherent plot was discarded in favour of wOAH, things are going in REVERSE.
if you are able to explain to me the stakes and motivations in the final scene (or honestly in any scene) then i concede. i am a big dumb dumb who shouldn’t watch nolan films. the number of times the characters verbalised their innermost desires should’ve made the narrative clearer, but instead they come across as one dimensional robots who at any moment will remind you “i am mother i love child” or “i am man i love me.”
you go into a nolan film expecting a twist, whether that be a story or a technical twist, but this film pulls the same fucking rug at least FOUR times. if there is anybody whose identity you don’t know then you can bet your fucking ass you’ve aLreAdy mEt tHeM.
**mild spoiler over**
narrative aside, the mechanism the whole film is built around is barely explained or deployed to its full use until halfway through. compare this to Inception, where an audience surrogate is walked through the concept and then the film builds off this understanding. in Tenet you are given a 5 minute explanation and the audience surrogate is literally told “you won’t understand this.” why does this film not want me to understand what is happening? why is Tenet making it hard for me to engage with it?
i am willing to watch this again, with subtitles, to find out if there is any depth that i missed, but so far all i see is that form was prioritised over story. and it was a bad decision.